[In Context] Africans in America / Johannesburg Art Gallery / 2016

Mikhael Subotzky / Lyle Ashton Harris / Eric Gottesman / Sanford Biggers / Wangechi Mutu / ruby onyinyechi amanze / Brendan Fernandes / Dawit L. Petros / Kajahl / Valerie Piraino / Daàpò Reo 17 November - 17 December 2016 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
Johannesburg Art Gallery

17 November 2016 – 17 January 2017

As part of its ongoing In Context series, Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce the forthcoming exhibition Africans in America and the concurrent academic conference Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures, along with a series of events happening throughout Johannesburg. The citywide initiative will take place from November 2016 through January 2017.

In 2010, Goodman Gallery director Liza Essers launched In Context, an innovative curatorial platform to bring together a diverse group of international artists who share a rigorous commitment to the dynamics and tensions of place in reference to the African continent. A signature programme within the gallery, In Context activates the city of Johannesburg as a locus of contemporary art practice, ideas and discourses. In Context takes place in Johannesburg in the absence of an officially funded citywide biennial. Goodman Gallery takes great pleasure in facilitating the exhibition Africans in America and spearheading the Black Portraiture[s] III conference. These events play a vital part in addressing gaps in art history, rewriting it from diverse perspectives, a central pursuit within the In Context series.

Conceptualised and curated by artist Hank Willis Thomas and Liza Essers, Africans in America aims to speak to the flows, exchanges and continuities between the continent of Africa and the United States. The exhibition will take place across two spaces in the city, Goodman Gallery in Parkwood and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Artists featured include Ghada Amer, Theaster Gates, Alfredo Jaar, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, Odili Donald Odita and Kehinde Wiley, amongst others.

The exhibition is aligned to the important Black Portraiture[s] III initiative convened by Deborah Willis (New York University), Henry Louis Gates III (Harvard University) and Brett Pyper (University of Witwatersrand). The seventh in a series of conversations about imaging the black body, the 2016 edition is the first to be held on the African continent. The conference, which has attracted an impressive list of international panelists, opens up a forum for artists, activists and scholars from around the world to share ideas on a range of subjects, from historical topics to current research on South African art and activism and related themes affecting the global African diaspora.

Hank Willis Thomas has been represented by Goodman Gallery South Africa since 2008. Africans in America is the second exhibition he has curated for the gallery. He has become recognised for challenging constructions of race and gender in the United States and South Africa. His art has consistently extended dialogues on African and diaspora identities into significant international arenas, and his important work in South Africa has keyed into local history while driving new visions in the post-apartheid context.

In Context 2016 is a partnership between Goodman Gallery; The Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University; Wits School of Arts at University of the Witwatersrand; United States Mission to South Africa; La Pietra Dialogues/ New York University; New York University Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities and Diversity; and Hank Willis Thomas Studio, in association with Phillips; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts; Studio Museum in Harlem; Wiser Institute; Center for African American Studies/ Princeton University; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Contemporary And, and Art Africa.



Mikhael Subotzky

Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, Cape Town) is a Johannesburg based artist whose works in multiple mediums (including film installation, video, photography, collage and painting) attempt to engage critically with the instability of images and the politics of representation.

Subotzky has exhibited in a number of important international exhibitions, including most recently Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican in London (2020), Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa at the Fowler Museum (UCLA) in Los Angeles (2019) and Ex Africa in various venues in Brazil (2017-18). His award-winning Ponte City project (co-authored with Patrick Waterhouse) was presented at Art Basel Unlimited in 2018. The full exhibition and archive of this
project has since been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will be the subject of a monographic exhibition there in 2021.

Subotzky’s work is collected widely by international institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington), Tate (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the South African National Gallery, among others.

Subotzky’s work was included in Lubumbashi (2013) and Liverpool (2012) biennials. Pixel Interface, a multi-component video installation, was included in All The World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).

ruby onyinyechi amanze

ruby onyinyechi amanze (b. 1982, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria) is a Brooklyn-based artist of Nigerian descent and British upbringing whose creative practices and processes focus on producing mixed media, paper-based drawings and works. Her art draws inspiration from photography, textiles, architecture and print-making.

amanze’s practice builds around questions of how to create drawings that maintain paper’s essence of weightlessness. The large-scaled and multi-dimensional drawings are part of an ongoing, yet non-linear narrative that employ the malleability of space as the primary antagonist.

A nameless, self-imagined, chimeric universe has simultaneously been positioned between nowhere and everywhere. Using a limited palette of visual elements, including ada the Alien, windows and birds, amanze’s drawings create a non-narrative and expansive world. The construction of this world is largely centered around an interest in the spatial negotiations found in the three dimensional practices of dance, architecture and design.

Most recently, amanze completed two-year long residencies at the Queens Museum and as part of the Drawing Center’s Open Sessions Program, both in New York. She has exhibited her work internationally in Lagos, London, Johannesburg and Paris, and nationally at the California African American Museum, the Drawing Center and the Studio Museum of Harlem.

amanze earned her B.F.A., Summa Cum Laude, from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and her M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art.  In 2012-2013, amanze was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Today she resides between Philadelphia and Brooklyn, but calls multiple places home.